Japans Folk Architecture: Traditional Thatched Farmhouses

Chuji Kawashima

Published by Kodansha International (JPN), 2000
ISBN 10: 4770025068 / ISBN 13: 9784770025067
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Synopsis: If there is no place like home, there is certainly no home like a minka. Literally "houses of the people," these traditional farmhouses from Japan's premodern past might be more properly called "folk houses": The beauty of minka, like the beauty of all folk art, lies in the harmonious blending of form and material. In form, minka have evolved gradually, with numerous variations, from origins deep in Japan's prehistoric past. The building materials--earth, wood, and stone--come from the same mountains and forests that surround the houses. Traditional forms, readily available materials, and integration with nature--these are the distinguishing elements of the buildings that countless Japanese have called home for centuries.

Illustrated with more than 400 photographs and drawings, this book describes the basic external and internal features, the structure from foundation to roof truss, and the variety of minka styles. It is a virtual cornucopia of information, sure to delight anyone with an interest in architecture, art, or age-old lifestyles that are now on the wane.

The diversity of minka styles is particularly intriguing. In response to the demands of local geography, climate, and industry, every region of Japan has developed its own style. The multistory minka of northern Japan, with their steep thatched roofs and many small gable windows, were an adaptation to long winters and heavy snows as well as to the needs of silkworm cultivation. The minka of southern Japan are often a cluster of relatively small, low buildings with raised floors to maximize ventilation and minimize typhoon damage. As the reader of this book will soon discover, an exploration of minka styles becomes a journey through Japan as well as a capsule social history of this fascinating land. Almost half the book is devoted to a discussion of styles, from salient features and the reasons for their development to local variants. A detailed description of a representative extant minka is given for each major style.

An architect by profession, the author has spent half a century scouring Japan from the northern island of Hokkaido to the scattered islands south of Kyushu, studying, drawing, and photographing, in hope of blunting the onslaught of consumer culture that threatens these magnificent houses. This book, the first comprehensive account in English of the architecture and the major stylistic characteristics of minka, is a distillation of his vast knowledge and deep love for these traditional dwellings.

Previously published as Minka: Traditional Houses of Rural Japan.

About the Author: Chuji Kawashima (b. 1912) is the author or coauthor of many books in Japanese on minka, including the award-winning Furusato no sumai (Hometown Dwellings) and the three-volume Horobiyuku minka (Vanishing Minka). Now retired, he was an executive of a leading Japanese firm of architects and builders. He is on the board of the Society for Japanese Folk Architecture.

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Title: Japans Folk Architecture: Traditional ...
Publisher: Kodansha International (JPN)
Publication Date: 2000
Book Condition: New

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